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Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby The Elf » Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:39 pm

ulrichburke wrote:Cubase is a flippin' nightmare...
Why so? If you have specific questions I can probably answer them?
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby ulrichburke » Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:26 am

Dear Everyone.

Thanks for all your help and excellent suggestions! Here's an example of one of mine....

https://soundcloud.com/ulrichburke/new-one-for-laura

And here's the comparison track....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Xvsdu2jm8&t=19s

I'm not trying to COPY the comparison track, just make mine sound like it could be on the same CD as the other one. The DIZI (slightly sour fluty thing!) and the Oriental-twangy-thingy (it's name's in Oriental characters so I've never known what it's called but I love the sound!) are both freebies from Chinee Winds which is a professional Oriental sounds site but as they're the freebie versions (Chinese know how to charge for their stuff!) they're not the full-on, all-settings-blazing versions. But the thing IS - I've kinda got a gut certainty I could improve the overall sound far more if I knew/understood when to use more of the tricks of the trade, as it were. And I see loads of YouTube vids., but they're all about dance/How to make Screaming Leads and my stuff's not really about that.

Anyway, hope you have a good laugh at the effort!

Yours respectfully, and with thanks,

Chris.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby RichardT » Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:40 am

ulrichburke wrote:Dear Everyone.

Thanks for all your help and excellent suggestions! Here's an example of one of mine....

https://soundcloud.com/ulrichburke/new-one-for-laura

And here's the comparison track....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Xvsdu2jm8&t=19s

I'm not trying to COPY the comparison track, just make mine sound like it could be on the same CD as the other one. The DIZI (slightly sour fluty thing!) and the Oriental-twangy-thingy (it's name's in Oriental characters so I've never known what it's called but I love the sound!) are both freebies from Chinee Winds which is a professional Oriental sounds site but as they're the freebie versions (Chinese know how to charge for their stuff!) they're not the full-on, all-settings-blazing versions. But the thing IS - I've kinda got a gut certainty I could improve the overall sound far more if I knew/understood when to use more of the tricks of the trade, as it were. And I see loads of YouTube vids., but they're all about dance/How to make Screaming Leads and my stuff's not really about that.

Anyway, hope you have a good laugh at the effort!

Yours respectfully, and with thanks,

Chris.

I enjoyed that! The sounds are good. With this kind of music, you’re looking at very gentle treatment in mixing and mastering. You don’t need lots of processing.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby RichardT » Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:42 am

RichardT wrote:
ulrichburke wrote:Dear Everyone.

Thanks for all your help and excellent suggestions! Here's an example of one of mine....

https://soundcloud.com/ulrichburke/new-one-for-laura

And here's the comparison track....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Xvsdu2jm8&t=19s

I'm not trying to COPY the comparison track, just make mine sound like it could be on the same CD as the other one. The DIZI (slightly sour fluty thing!) and the Oriental-twangy-thingy (it's name's in Oriental characters so I've never known what it's called but I love the sound!) are both freebies from Chinee Winds which is a professional Oriental sounds site but as they're the freebie versions (Chinese know how to charge for their stuff!) they're not the full-on, all-settings-blazing versions. But the thing IS - I've kinda got a gut certainty I could improve the overall sound far more if I knew/understood when to use more of the tricks of the trade, as it were. And I see loads of YouTube vids., but they're all about dance/How to make Screaming Leads and my stuff's not really about that.

Anyway, hope you have a good laugh at the effort!

Yours respectfully, and with thanks,

Chris.

I enjoyed that! The sounds are good. With this kind of music, you’re looking at very gentle treatment in mixing and mastering. You don’t need lots of processing.

What is the peak level on the audio file for that track? Do you know what the loudness value is?
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby ulrichburke » Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:32 am

Dear Richard T.

Checked it in Audacity and it gets to -9 in the climax bit.

Any ideas on making it sound more like the comparison track in mix quality? This isn't how I WANT it to finish up sounding, it's just as far as I can GET it without being told what to do next!!

I've got a lot like this, if I get told what to do to this, maybe I can use the info. on other tracks too.

yours hopefully

Chris.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby RichardT » Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:58 am

ulrichburke wrote:Dear Richard T.

Checked it in Audacity and it gets to -9 in the climax bit.

Any ideas on making it sound more like the comparison track in mix quality? This isn't how I WANT it to finish up sounding, it's just as far as I can GET it without being told what to do next!!

I've got a lot like this, if I get told what to do to this, maybe I can use the info. on other tracks too.

yours hopefully

Chris.

I don't think you're too far away. The main difference I hear is that reference track has more reverb. I suspect it has some 'glue' compression on too but that's a bit of a guess.

You need to raise the peak level to be closer to 0dB. What level you should target depends on what you're going to do with the track. James, being a mastering engineer among other things, can probably advise better than I, but I generally target -1 dB because I send my tracks to streaming services and some of them process the master into lossy data formats, where you need a bit of 'headroom'.

If you can't add sends then the reverb is a bit of an issue. You could add reverb as an insert on each track and set the 'wet/dry' level on the reverb to give you the effect that you need.

Glue compression is normally added as an insert effect to the complete signal (master bus). Do you have a master bus in your software and can you add insert effects to it?
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby James Perrett » Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:42 pm

ulrichburke wrote:Dear Everyone.

Thanks for all your help and excellent suggestions! Here's an example of one of mine....

https://soundcloud.com/ulrichburke/new-one-for-laura

And here's the comparison track....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Xvsdu2jm8&t=19s


I thought yours sounded pretty good. The main difference with the comparison is that the lead instruments on yours stand out a bit more from the pad which is more in the background. The comparison track also had either a very long delay effect or a quiet response part on the lead instrument which gives a sense of space. I also felt that the trills on your piece sounded a bit mechanical - you could do with using different samples for the down and up pick and possibly a very slight amount of randomisation in timing. This is probably something that is harder to do in a score editor than in a typical sequencer which will often offer a humanise function.

I didn't notice much difference in volume - I don't know if Soundcloud normalises things automatically.

It is always the case that your own material never sounds as polished or as good as other people's. That's probably down to your familiarity with every detail of the sound. Even top engineers have this problem when listening to their own material. That's a big reason to involve other people who you can trust in the final mastering stage.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby ulrichburke » Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:22 pm

Dear James and Richard T.

James first. Yes, QSE does indeed have a master buss - it's the 'out' for want of a better word and you can put 4 effects on it just the same as any other bus. I've got O.T. T., Blockfish, 5orcery (that's how they spell it, it's a 5-band compressor) Nightshine, the one in the Korg MDEX, Maxwell Smart, Leveller and Luftikus compressors. Putting 4 presets on each bus is NOT an issue in QSE, it's got a TINY processor footprint, smaller than any other DAW I've seen. I think it's easier to work with them that way TBH, you can set the settings individually instead of 'one size fits all'. My 2 reverbs are the MDEX reverb - if you don't know the MDEX, it's a real Swiss army knife, it's got just about everything there is in it somewheres! and Ambience. I've never fully UNDERSTOOD Ambience - it's got dampers and different wavelengths settings in there and I've never worked out when to use them. Or how...

Dear Richard.

Thanks for thinking I'm not so far off! God this question's going to sound stooopid to you but bear with it - I kept the level to -9 because I thought you had to leave loads of room for mastering, but Richard's saying I have to get it to zero? And its waveform's TINY - I've always had this worry about my waveforms, they're always tiny even compared to unfinished-not-properly-mixed tracks I've downloaded. Last stoopid question (for this one, sorry!) I've always used QSE because I've never understood Cubase. I know Cubase has got notation, which I love, but the difference is in Cubase you don't hear the note till AFTER you put it in. In QSE you hear the note AS you put it in. That makes all the difference - in Cubase I was playing back all the time, of course everything was discords and it was killing my thought flow! Of course I could load in the MIDI file for finishing off but laziness, I guess, was easier to work in something I totally understood rather than something I didn't REALLY understand that was winning all the battles! Felt like I was in a war with Hal 2000!

I'll leave it at that. If one of you would tell me which compressor to use and would it be OK to show you the glued version and then use what you tell me on another piece? I mean I nearly got a CD released not so long ago (honest!) but I had to do the mixing, it was a tiny company that only accepted ready-mixed stuff, and I couldn't get it right for them.

Also - would any of you know a source of background pad sounds? The cotton-wool, pin-yer-instruments-here, Karunesh, New Age pad sounds that hums in the gaps of LOADS of New Age tracks? As that's all they're needed for, a cheap source would be awesome (or another sound I could high/low pass into sounding right...)

Sorry for all of this. Thankyou very, very much for reading.

Yours respectfully

Chris.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby RichardT » Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:25 pm

Thanks for thinking I'm not so far off! God this question's going to sound stooopid to you but bear with it - I kept the level to -9 because I thought you had to leave loads of room for mastering, but Richard's saying I have to get it to zero? And its waveform's TINY - I've always had this worry about my waveforms, they're always tiny even compared to unfinished-not-properly-mixed tracks I've downloaded. Last stoopid question (for this one, sorry!) I've always used QSE because I've never understood Cubase. I know Cubase has got notation, which I love, but the difference is in Cubase you don't hear the note till AFTER you put it in. In QSE you hear the note AS you put it in. That makes all the difference - in Cubase I was playing back all the time, of course everything was discords and it was killing my thought flow! Of course I could load in the MIDI file for finishing off but laziness, I guess, was easier to work in something I totally understood rather than something I didn't REALLY understand that was winning all the battles! Felt like I was in a war with Hal 2000!

Hi Chris,

I was assuming you were going to master it yourself and I was talking about the end result of mastering. Sorry if I confused you! It’s ok to begin mastering with peaks of -9dB. If you can put plugins on the master bus then you have a choice: master in QSE, or export audio and master somewhere else, such as Cubase. The benefit of Cubase is that you will have access to a limiter, loudness metering, the ability to control the gaps at start and end of the tracks - the downside is that it’s a complex package that so far you haven’t got on with. Mastering is a different discipline to mixing but there’s no reason why you can’t learn about it. But get the mix as good as you can before doing the mastering, it cannot fix mix problems. Like many people, I get my tracks mastered by someone else and there are many advantages to that - but self-mastering is also not uncommon.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby James Perrett » Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:24 pm

One other thing I'd suggest is to consider booking a one to one session with an experienced engineer like the Elf on here. I think you are at the stage where having someone go through their thought processes with your material and then showing you how to correct things is going to pay big dividends. We could be writing reams of material on here which won't do half as much good as an hour or two working with someone who knows what they are doing.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

Postby CS70 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:17 pm

ulrichburke wrote: I've never fully UNDERSTOOD Ambience - it's got dampers and different wavelengths settings in there and I've never worked out when to use them. Or how...

To glue mixes you use a little bit of compression (really no more than 2 or 3 dB) and a slow attack so it's gentle. As of release, often auto-release works nice as it's what auto-release is for: it will quicken the release after big peaks bit keep it slow-ish for the average signal. That's to avoid for a big peak to take forever to get back to level, which sounds really strange on the master bus (remember: a compressor is simply a finger moving the fader while the song is playing!). If you don't have any particular big peaks, a slow release works just as well. The basic idea is that glue compression is "gentle".

The other part is the reverb. A "glue" reverb is making everything sound like it's been recorded in the same space even if it isn't, which means room properties... so it's essentially about the early reflections (so, shorten your reverb if you're using convolution or reduce decay with an algorithmic one) and using little or no predelay.

On the other side, deciding how big the "virtual" room is, it's about having a lot more predelay (often around a 16th note on) and using mostly the reverb tail (so lower down the early reflections if you can, to keep that nice tail). Having these two ideas in mind, you can then set up your reverbs to that they both are very audible but do not interfere with the main content - and of course you may use different size reverbs for different tracks in the more pop productions.

And its waveform's TINY - I've always had this worry about my waveforms, they're always tiny even compared to unfinished-not-properly-mixed tracks I've downloaded.

Richard's already answered about the mix - it's all good to have it peak at -9dB before mastering. That way, the mastering engineer has lots of space to do EQ moves, mono-ize things and in general handle the mix before limiting, without having to turn it down and therefore degrade the signal/noise ratio.

Tiny waveforms should not worry you at all: zoom them in! :) Since this is a pretty recurring worry, I wrote a post in my blog on the subject at https://www.theaudioblog.org/post/how-daws-destroy-recordings.


I'll leave it at that. If one of you would tell me which compressor to use and would it be OK to show you the glued version and then use what you tell me on another piece?

The difference in the sound of various compressors in the same class (beyond some specific electronics, i.e. having transformers or not in input/output, amount of added noise etc) is basically the shape of the attack and release curves, and how they are changed by the attack and release controls.

So in two compressors capable of the same attack/release speed, you may have exactly the same controls (say threshold, reduction and attack and release time)... but the effect (sound) will be different because for example a compressor A will have a linear curve, while a compresso B will use a parabolic one, and so on.

That means that for glue - once you follow the "all gentle and possibly automatic release" recipe above, it's all about trying different ones and see how they sound for your specific mix/genre. Since we're talking slow settings and low level reduction in general, most compressors will actually do in this role.

You hear much more difference in compressors with fast attacks, where the way the compressor reduces the volume in a short time can bring really noticeable differences.
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Re: Help with using Compression (etc!) to create bigger-sounding waveforms?

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